Last week I came to the realisation that I might actually be part of a group of people I irrationally despise.
Look at this arsehole for example.
Braces, check. Bow tie, check. Facial Hair from the Crimean War (to borrow a quote from Nick Helm), check. You know just from looking at that photo that his trousers finish about two inches higher than they probably should, that he’s wearing brown leather brogues and has a pocket watch tucked into his right hand skinny jean pocket with a chain attached to a belt loop… Blur were right 23 years ago. Modern life is rubbish.
The problem here being that I’ve had a beard since I was 16 (mostly on but sometimes off). I’ve worn braces since before they were ‘fashionable’ (and waistcoats). I like pocket watches – partially because they’re just very nice things, but also because I haven’t found a wristwatch that my skin doesn’t react to after more than a couple of weeks (and yes, I wash…). I am currently wearing a pair of brown leather brogues. I own a bow tie or two (for Comicon – honestly. Bow ties are cool). I went to a video game industry awards bash in late 2015 and it looked like we were all cookie cut at the same time!
But it goes further than that…
I own a record player and actually use it. I own a couple of 35mm cameras and actually take photos on them. I own a retro looking motorbike and I cycle. I prefer books to my Kindle. I prefer using a fountain pen to typing. I have a Telecaster and not a Stratocaster.
These were all things I decided a very long time ago on the basis of sensible logic, like (in order of the list above):
- Records DO sound better, there’s a whole ritual to them that I like and you don’t actually own digital music (or TV shows, or movies, or games). You can’t leave it to your kids or look at it on a shelf, or spend a Sunday rearranging it, picking stuff to listen to at random. You don’t get to skip songs or create your own playlists. You listen to it how the recording artist wanted you to listen to it. And they’re records. Not “vinyl”.
- Using 35mm film makes you think before you press the shutter every single time simply because there is a value to each frame and because it actually requires some skill. All the hard work isn’t done for you. Plus you don’t get to see the results instantly. I have a Nikon SLR and recently got hold of a reconditioned Olympus Trip 35. These things still work perfectly well, so why on earth should they be thrown away?
- Come on, cafe racers are just cool aren’t they? Now I wish that was my bike, but it isn’t. One day though… And as for cycling? Well I don’t have a hipster friendly fixie (and for god’s sake, they might make sense in Amsterdam which is about as flat as a pancake, but where I live surrounded by reasonable sized hills it makes as much sense as a chocolate fireguard) but I do cycle and I do not have a full driving licence despite being nearly 40.
- Books! Similar to the music here I guess. What are shelves used for in modern minimalist hipster homes other than places to store moustache wax and beard combs? Actually holding a book, looking at the printed words on a page, being able to see what other people are reading when you’re out in public and maybe, I dunno, start a conversation that isn’t about the weather is just better isn’t it? Sure, I can see the point in owning a Kindle, for example when going on holiday, but I don’t use it to read very often at home.
- The fountain pen argument is similar to the 35mm film argument. You have to think. You have to take your time. You have to try not to make mistakes, and when you get to the end of a perfect page – well that’s satisfying. Plus a well made pen is another one of those nice things in the way that pocket watches are. And that might not have been my motorbike, but yes, that is my handwriting.
- Stratocasters are good, in the way that a modern Mini is good. It’s engineered to be comfortable, efficient, cost effective, pleasing to the eye and user friendly. But a Telecaster is an original Mini. A classic. And it’s still a thing that functions perfectly well despite being designed more to meet necessity than by committee to shift units and make money.
See? All the obvious evidence points to me being a hipster. The difference being 5 – 10 years ago I would have stood out like a sore thumb in a high street and I dare say in another 5 -10 years I will do again. But come on, hurry it up – you’re ruining beards for the rest of us. I have never made a point of being fashionable, in fact I normally try and avoid it if at all possible, but now I seem to have ended up halfway there by mistake. Note only halfway, I still haven’t found a way to regrow my hair and fashion it into a manbun yet.
I guess what most of that shows is that I appreciate good craftsmanship, I like the way mechanical objects work and can feel, I like being involved in a process rather than being a spectator. I don’t not use digital (as this proves really), I just still appreciate analogue. So maybe that’s the one thing the hipsters got right. Modern life might be rubbish, but it can be made better if you’re not using mass produced, mass marketed crap that is outdated and replaced every 6 months just because the man on the TV or in the magazine says you should.